My confession; or, On the weight of wine

March 10, 2008 at 9:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Fear and trembling complement awe and wonder, as anyone who has ever witnessed a violent summer storm will tell you. But what about when it comes to wine? For me, my first few days spent surrounded by bottles that did not belong to me were wondrous and fearsome indeed. A newly minted Lush, I paced the shops a victim of sensory overload, wondering how soon I would remember the labels, the names, the grapes, and prices of the wine that lined the shelves. It was a lot to remember. I admit that those first few weeks I would wake at night, my mind swimming with the appellations of Bordeaux, or the names of the Noble Varietals mingling with nightmares about dinosaurs.

But that was just one part of my brain, and wine is a multi-sensory endeavor. I confess: one of the biggest challenges for me when I began at Lush was not honing my taste memory or my pronunciation of Chateau Haut-Brion, but getting comfortable with the bottles themselves. While stocking or dusting or ringing up a customer, I would hold the bottle as if it were someone else’s grapey newborn that I was terrified to drop. Uncorking them was worse. No matter how many times I had done it in my own home, when it was an eighty dollar bottle of Chateau Fancy I would get that deadening in the hands and quickening of the heart that always comes with an attack of the nerves. Who needs aerobic exercise when you’ve got four pairs of eyes watching you fiddle with an uncooperative wine key?

Eight months later, fear and trembling has matured into just plain awe and wonder. I’d say I’m comfortable–deft even–with the curl of wrist required to slice off the foil capsule, and the sensory carnival of my first weeks has mellowed into something a little more familiar. The heft of a two pound bottle no longer terrifies; instead it feels just right, and in a hurry I’ll carry bottles tucked into the crooks of my arms, or with fingers twined ’round the bottles’ necks, several at once. My previously troubled mind now has room to concentrate on the more important issues at–and in–hand. But those will have to wait til next time.

 Posted by Erin

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